USC football position breakdown: quarterbacks – Press Enterprise

USC football position breakdown: quarterbacks – Press Enterprise

Kedon Slovis’ days of flying under the radar are long over.

He may have entered 2019 as USC’s innocuous freshman backup quarterback, but after an injury thrust him into the spotlight, Slovis never relinquished the starting job.

Slovis completed an ultra-efficient 71.9% of his passes for 3,502 yards, 30 touchdowns and nine interceptions, set a USC record by throwing for 515 yards against UCLA, and became an undisputed leader for the Trojans.

So what can be expected for his follow-up performance?

The answer to the question will likely determine USC’s fate in its seven-game season. And the preseason expectations are high ahead of Saturday’s season opener against Arizona State – on Thursday, Slovis was one of seven Trojans selected to the preseason All-Pac-12 first team.

The biggest reason for optimism surrounding Slovis entering the 2020 campaign is his experience. He’s no longer a green freshman, even if he rarely performed like one. He has a good grip of what’s expected of him in the Air Raid offense, which is also in its second season at USC, typically a tipping point for the scheme.

“After a year of being the guy, I think the team sees him in a different light,” offensive coordinator Graham Harrell said. “That’s as important as anything. That might not be tangible on film and there’s no exact equation to see where that improved, but when things get tight and you need to rally the troops, if that quarterback is a leader, you’re going to be successful more often than not.”

Unlike last year, Slovis didn’t have to split snaps during the spring and summer with other quarterbacks competing for the starting job. He had clear possession of that job after J.T. Daniels’ transfer to Georgia, and that meant a full preseason of working with the first-team offense and building chemistry with his receivers.

“Now we have a full season starting off with ‘Nine’ and we have this full off-season with him,” receiver Tyler Vaughns said, referring to Slovis’ jersey number. “Going into this game, we feel real confident as an offense.”

The expectations couldn’t be higher for Slovis, whose name is already being thrown around in regards to the 2022 NFL draft. But he should have the tools around him to approach those expectations.

Here’s a breakdown of where USC stands at quarterback heading into Saturday’s season opener:

Key returnees: Matt Fink (Sr.), Kedon Slovis (So.)

Key losses: J.T. Daniels (transfer, Georgia), Jack Sears (transfer, Boise State)

Newcomers: Mo Hasan (Sr.)

Biggest unanswered question: What is Slovis’ ceiling? He put up gaudy numbers as a freshman despite not starting the opener and missing most of two games with a concussion. So what exactly can he accomplish with every factor that appears to be going his way in 2020? It’s a tantalizing possibility for USC fans.